Doctor of Philosophy in the Field of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health

Program Director  M. Napolitano


The Ph.D. in social and behavioral sciences in public health degree program is designed to develop public health scholars who are at the forefront of social and behavior change. The program trains students to conduct independent research that is theoretically sound and applicable across a variety of contexts in order to prevent diseases and promote health and well-being.


The goal of the Ph.D. degree program is to train students to conduct rigorous and state-of-the-art independent research to advance understanding of social and behavioral sciences in public health. The program is designed to be four years in duration, with comprehensive exams at the end of the second year, and full dissertation work during the remaining two years. 

PhD, Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health Competencies include:

  • Synthesize the research literature in public health social and behavioral sciences as well as be able to compare and contrast prominent social and behavioral science theories.
  • Critically examine and employ distinct theories, or combinations of theories, at multiple levels to study health outcomes. 
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in the principles of evaluation and study design and data analysis as well as develop evidence based questions and predictions, gather, synthesize, and interpret empirical evidence.
  • Exhibit the ability to apply scientific knowledge to develop new conceptual models and/or research predictions, including, justifying new questions with existing literature, selecting appropriate research methods to study those questions, and indicate the potential contributions of the proposed research. 
  • Report research objectively, insightfully, and in the context of theory and prior research.
  • Have an awareness of, and adhere to, the ethical standards of the discipline for the conduct of scientific research.
  • Gain competency in classroom instruction and practices in substantive issues in public health social and behavioral sciences.

Program requirements 

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 48 credits, including 12 credits in foundation courses, 9 credits in required courses, 6 credits in advanced research courses, 14 credits in elective courses, and 7 credits in dissertation courses.

PUBH 8416Study Design & Evaluation Methods
PUBH 8417Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis
PUBH 8418Applied Statistical Analysis
PUBH 8419Measurement in Public Health & Health Services
PUBH 8408Advanced Topics: Health Behavior Research & Practice Applications
PUBH 8409Advanced Topics: Health Communication Research
Behavioral Medicine: 3 credits (course pending)
Advanced Research Methods and Statistics
6 credits from the following:
EDUC 8140Ethnographic Research Methods
EDUC 8172Multivariate Analysis
EDUC 8173Structural Equation Modeling
EDUC 8131Case Study Research Methods
PSYC 8231Development of Psychometric Instruments
PUBH 6263Advanced GIS
PUBH 6273Ethnographic Methods
PUBH 6310Statistical Analysis in Health Policy
PUBH 6533Design of Comm Health Surveys
PUBH 8364Quantitative Methods
PUBH 8366Biostatistical Methods
14 credits in pre-approved elective courses selected from among any the following subject areas as well as the Advanced Research Methods and Statistics area, above.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
PSYC 8204Experimental Foundations of Psychology: Biological Basis of Behavior
PSYC 8211Community Psychology I
PSYC 8253Social Cognition
PSYC 8277Health Psychology
PSYC 8278Behavioral Medicine
PSYC 8287Current Topics in Clinical Psychology
Global Health
PUBH 6262Intro-Geog Information Systems
PUBH 6400Global Health Frameworks
PUBH 6416Ethical and Cultural Issues in Global Health Research and Programs
PUBH 6431Global Health Communication Strategies and Skills
PUBH 6442Comparative Global Health Systems
Current Issues in Public Health
ECON 8375Econometrics I
HCS 8369Issues in Health Care
HDEV 8100Issues and Special Topics in Human Development
PUBH 6274Emerging ID for PH Pro's
PUBH 6368Law, Medicine, and Ethics
PUBH 6532Commnty Org,Devlpmnt&Advocacy
PUBH 6573Media Advocacy for Public Hlth
PUBH 8405Advanced Topics: Health Economics Research
PUBH 8422Advanced Health Care and Public Health Research Design
Students may be permitted to take alternative elective course with the approval of the program director.
Dissertation Preparation and Dissertation
7 credits taken as follows:
1 credit in Advanced Theorizing in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health (course pending)
and 6 credits in:
PUBH 8999Dissertation Research